Lindsay Kemp: David Bowie's controversial love and mentor

May 03, 2021 at 12:27 hrs.
"Bowie had a great talent as a mime," Kemp said. Source:


In November 1970, THe Man Who Sold the World, the third album of David Bowie, which on the cover showed him reclining on a couch, wearing a blue silk dress, long hair, and his face without makeup, together with the declaration of bisexuality that he had announced shortly before the unveiling of his work, considered, by true, one of the best contributions to hard rock and his stellar presentation as a musician and figure on the scene.

Initially, The Man Who Sold The World was launched through Mercury records in November 1970 in the United States, and in April 1971 in the United Kingdom. Source: Mercury Records, Universal.


Behind that proclamation and expression that granted him so many successes and acceptances as objections in the years to come was the name of Lindsay kemp, a British dancer, choreographer and mime artist, born on May 3, 1938, who crossed the limits of his art and that of all those who dared to undertake, becoming an inspiration for two of the most important musicians of the decade of 1970 and countless dancers thanks to their work full of passion, truth, and in some matters, suffering.

And the two met in 1966 after a performance by Lindsay in Covent Garden when Bowie was 19 years old and was considering abandoning music and joining a brotherhood of Tibetan monks in Scotland. That idea was quickly forgotten when he became a student and lover of Kemp, who lived in Bateman Street, Soho, and that undoubtedly helped him in the search for his identity and educational, musical and theatrical training.

In addition to this, Kemp gave Bowie the theatrical inspiration to appear as he wanted during one of the most defining facets of his career and personal life, clad in a blue dress, and then for the birth of the character most decisive Bowie is reminded of: Ziggy Stardust, product of a night in August 1972 at the theater Rainbow from Finsbury Park.

For that performance, Kemp choreographed a fantastic two-hour routine with his group of mimic artists who spun references to A Clockwork Orange and constructivism From the 1920s, Korniloff designed the outfit changes while Bowie unleashed Ziggy.

Roxy Music it was the act of support; Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed y Elton John they were in the audience. It was Bowie's start at the top of the charts for two years, bringing the way he worked the stage on the rock and roll it was transformed forever.


The death of Lindsay kemp it was due to heart and lung failure. Source: Lindsay Kemp Official Site.

"Ziggy Stardust put glam rock, gay rock and theatrical rock on the map, "Kemp said in an interview for The Guardian. “It was the first time we saw this marriage between theater and rock, particularly my kind of theater. "And yes, years later, groups like Genesis and Pink Floyd were taking these forms.

The 1970s and 1980s were one of considerable fame and riches. Lindsay kemp he presented Flowers, his adaptation of the novel Our Lady of the Flowers de Jean Genett, the writer who in turn inspired Jean genie Bowie. In the years to come, his work moved to broadway, where he rubbed shoulders with Andy Warhol and other figures of the time, although also suffering the effects of not having subsidies and allocating the money, as he said, to costumes, scenery and cocaine.

Contrary to what Lindsay thought, this didn't last forever. Both artists continued their work although increasingly distant from each other.

"Yeah, it was one of my great loves," Kemp says of Bowie. “There have not been many. I counted the other day and I think it was five. So I think it was a great love, although I think a great love would last a little longer. Anyway, I got over it! "

Lindsay Kemp and David Bowie (1968). Photos: Lindsay kemp


Lindsay Kemp, a mime that does not stop talking


Marcel Marceau, an artist who influenced Kemp, said "Don't make a mime speak, it won't stop", a failed mission with Lindsay, who after years in rock, drug battles and mental tensions, dedicated herself to the stage, to a movies in Hollywood, and to teaching.

When teaching dance, he told students that he would partly instruct them in the technique, but above all he asked them to unleash their imaginations. That was certainly the case with Bowie and kate bush, another of the singers who adopted his teaching. "I helped them to be themselves, to bring out their spirit, as well as to teach them to dance (...) I guided them down the path of madness. Crazy pavement! I mean, on stage you need to see the character really flirting with death and taking extreme risks that only crazy people would do. "

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